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Gameday Gallery: Notre Dame vs. South Carolina in the Gator Bowl

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From the Archives: Notre Dame soccer stars and the World Cup

Though the U.S. men’s national team bowed out of the 2022 World Cup over the weekend, football fever remains strong around the globe as the “world’s greatest sporting event” continues. It wasn’t the case this year, but Fighting Irish fans often have an extra reason to pay attention to the World Cup, as Notre Dame soccer stars have historically been well-represented on both men’s and women’s national teams.

This week, From the Archives looked back at some of Notre Dame’s past World Cup participants. Starting with MLS and USMNT standout Matt Besler, we then highlight the extraordinary success of Notre Dame women’s soccer in the 1990s, which led to many Fighting Irish soccer players entering the international stage. While we lament this year’s disappointing finish for the American men, perhaps a return to the historical success of the women’s national team — in which Notre Dame alums have played a central role — will bring hope for the Women’s World Cup coming next summer.

Matt Besler: From a game-winning penalty kick to a World Cup appearance 

Nov. 3, 2005 | Kevin Brennan | Dec. 4, 2008 | Matt Gamber | Nov. 1, 2012 | Joseph Monardo | Sept. 24, 2014 | Alex Carson | Researched by Lilyann Gardner 

There is no doubt that soccer star Matt Besler left a mark on Notre Dame’s men’s soccer program. The defender from Overland Park, Kansas, was a standout player and student from 2005 to 2008 and racked up several awards during his time at the University. 

“Besler, who made 73 starts and 90 appearances as a defender in his Notre Dame career, was a two-time team captain, three-time member of the All-Big East team and an All-American his senior season,” wrote Joseph Monardo (‘14). 

Besler’s storied career got off to a fast start. His first goal for the Fighting Irish occurred during his freshman year and was the fifth and final shot of an intense penalty shoot-out against Syracuse to advance to the second round of the Big East Tournament. 

“It’s definitely exciting. I probably couldn’t have asked for a better first goal of my college career,” Besler (‘09) said. 

Matt Besler (right) playing in a 2-1 win over Georgetown during his senior season. Observer archives, Dec. 4, 2008.

Besler and the Irish appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 three years in a row before losing in a season-ending match against Northwestern his senior year. Despite this disappointing end, Besler managed to lead the team to the Big East regular season title for the second straight year. 

The leadership and success Besler found in college resulted in his eighth overall selection in the 2009 MLS draft by the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City). Just two years into his professional career, Besler was recognized as a 2011 MLS All-Star.

Shortly after, Besler joined the U.S. men’s national team and represented his country from 2013 to 2017, making an appearance in the 2014 World Cup. 

“Defender Matt Besler started every match for the United States at this year’s World Cup and just recently signed a Designated Player contract to remain reigning champion Sporting Kansas City’s captain for the long haul,” Alex Carson (‘17) reported in a 2014 Observer article. 

Besler played twelve years with Sporting Kansas City before finishing his professional career with FC Austin in 2021. Besler now serves as an ambassador for the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan program and remains an inspiration to Notre Dame players and fans around the country. 

Irish women’s soccer in the 1990s: Future World Cup stars shine 

Sept. 18, 1995 | Joe Villinski | Nov. 20, 1995 | Joe Villinski | Dec. 4, 1995 | Dave Tyler | Sept. 1, 1997 | Allison Krilla | Researched by Cade Czarnecki

The 1990s was a seminal decade for women’s soccer at Notre Dame. After becoming a varsity sport in 1988, few could have predicted its rapid rise to prominence.

In 1994, the young Irish team would make its first big splash of the decade. Three freshmen — Holly Manthei, Kate Markgraf (née Sobrero), and Julie Maund (‘98) — all found their way into the starting lineup and led the team all the way to the national title game, although the game resulted in a blowout loss to North Carolina.

Kate Markgraf (née Sobrero) dribbles down the field during a Notre Dame soccer game. Observer archives, Aug. 25, 1998.

The spark from 1994 carried over into the following season, and once again it was a freshman at the forefront of the effort. Taking advantage of the opportunity to replace injured All-American midfielder Cindy Daws (‘97), future Irish legend Shannon Boxx (‘99), a freshman, scored seven goals during the season.

Boxx’s efforts in 1995 were epitomized by her performance against Wisconsin. Head coach Chris Petrucelli said he knew the day felt different going in: “At the beginning of the game I looked over and they [Wisconsin] were very excited about playing. The difference was we were a lot more excited. We were very prepared to play today.” Boxx was easily the most jubilant player on the field after tallying a hat trick in Notre Dame’s shutout win.

Shannon Boxx (center) and teammates celebrate Notre Dame’s victory over the University of Portland in the 1995 national championship. Observer archives, Dec. 4, 1995.

The 1995 season was capped off in dramatic fashion as Notre Dame trounced the University of Portland in a third overtime period to secure the Fighting Irish’s first national championship in women’s soccer. Cindy Daws put it best: “I’ve heard some people say we won ugly. It doesn’t matter though because we’re national champions.”

Notre Dame would make it back to the national title game in 1996 and 1999, finishing as a runner-up on both occasions. While the soccer program as a whole achieved outstanding success in the 1990s, the star power on Notre Dame’s roster during this decade would also translate into individual glory on the international stage moving into the 2000s.

 Notre Dame women in the World Cup

Strong of Heart: Profiles of Notre Dame Athletics | Aug. 25, 1998 | Joe Cavato | Sept. 6, 1999 | Brian Kessler | Aug. 22, 2012 | Matthew Robison | Sept. 8, 2015 | Renee Griffin | Researched by Thomas Dobbs

Following her graduation from Notre Dame, Kate Markgraf (‘98) prepared for an extraordinary opportunity to compete for a World Cup. After appearing in 97 games and scoring seven goals while donning blue and gold, Markgraf accustomed herself to an unfamiliar role on the national team: the bench.

However, Markgraf quickly cemented herself as a strong contributor to the national team, helping the United States claim the 1999 World Cup after a 5-4 shootout victory against China. Markgraf would ultimately appear in 12 matches across appearances in three World Cups. She ended her soccer career in 2010 after 201 international appearances, becoming only the 10th woman in FIFA history to eclipse the 200 game mark.

Monica Gonzalez (right) plays for Notre Dame shortly after returning from the 1999 World Cup, where she represented Mexico. Observer archives, Sept. 6, 1999.

Markgraf, however, was farm from the only Notre Dame woman to compete on the international stage. Only a college junior at the time, Monica Gonzalez (‘01) competed at the 1999 World Cup for the Mexican national team. Gonzalez, too, achieved a distinguished international career, competing in 83 games and scoring 10 goals for Mexico.

Perhaps no international match more prominently featured Notre Dame soccer legends than the 2012 Olympics semifinal matchup between Canada and the United States. Representing Canada were former Notre Dame standouts Melissa Tancredi (‘05) and Candace Chapman (‘06), while Shannon Boxx (‘99) represented the Stars and Stripes.

Then-Notre Dame women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum commented on the matchup, stating that “[the game] was great for women’s soccer and … great for Notre Dame to have that kind of representation.”

Shannon Boxx (center) celebrates after a teammate’s goal in the 2011 World Cup. Observer archives, Aug. 22, 2012.

Boxx has become perhaps the most decorated Notre Dame soccer player of all time, winning a gold medal in three straight Olympic Games from 2004-2012. Boxx also helped the U.S. win the 2015 World Cup, the American’s first victory since the 1999 victory featuring Markgraf. In January 2022, Boxx was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Reflecting on her storied career, Boxx shared that sacrifices of others “pushed [her] to want to be successful” and that Notre Dame offered her the “first time [she] represented something bigger than just a little club team or myself.”

While Boxx, Markgraf, and Gonzalez have all retired, perhaps the Notre Dame women’s trip this fall to the NCAA quarterfinals, their first since the 2012 season, is a sign that the next generation of Irish talent is once again primed to play on the international stage.

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Gameday Gallery: Notre Dame vs. USC

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Gameday Gallery: Notre Dame vs Boston College

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Fans walk through the parking lots before the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Chris Smith (65) and safety Brandon Joseph (16) take photos with their families before the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame cornerback Cam Hart (5) hugs his mother after being recognized for Senior Day before the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame wide receiver Braden Lenzy (0) greets his family after being recognized for Senior Day before the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) greets his family after being recognized for Senior Day before the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Senior captains Michael Mayer (87), Isaiah Foskey (7), Bo Bauer and JD Bertrand (27) walk to midfield for the coin toss before the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Logan Diggs (3) stiff arms Boston College defensive back Josh DeBerry (21) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Logan Diggs (3) dives for a touchdown during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame cornerback Benjamin Morrison (20) celebrates after an interception during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman encourages his players during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Fans sing with each other during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9) and linebacker Marist Liufau (8) try to sack Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame linebacker JD Bertrand (27) sacks Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame cornerback TaRiq Bracy (28) hits Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne (10) goes to pass during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Sarah Grisham/The Observer
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Notre Dame wide receiver Jayden Thomas (83) reels in a pass during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne (10) goes to pass during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame wide receiver Deion Colzie (16) reels in a pass during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame cornerback Benjamin Morrison (20) intercepts a pass by Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Howard Cross III (56) tries to sack Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Audric Estime (7) is upended by Boston College defensive back Cole Batson (23) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame offensive lineman Josh Lugg (75) congratulates Notre Dame kicker Blake Grupe (99) after a field goal during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) celebrates with teammates after a fumble recovery during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
Notre Dame running back Audric Estime (7) runs the ball during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Sarah Grisham/The Observer
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Students dance during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman talks to referees during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau (8) returns a fumble for a touchdown on a play that was later reversed during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau (8) celebrates after returning a fumble for a touchdown on a play that was later reversed during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Audric Estime (7) celebrates after a touchdown during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Chris Tyree (25) walks into the endzone for a touchdown during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman talks with a referee during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Sarah Grisham/The Observer
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Fans brave the elements during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame kicker Zac Yoakam (92) kicks off in a snow storm during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame cornerback TaRiq Bracy (28) celebrates after sacking Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9) tries to sack Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9) celebrates after sacking Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead (14) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Members of the grounds crew use leafblowers to clear snow from the field during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer (87) fights for yards after a catch during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Logan Diggs (3) follows a block by tight end Holden Staes (85) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
A fan cheers during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Sarah Grisham/The Observer
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Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne (10) goes to pass during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Boston College running back Alex Broome (20) attacks a hole in the line during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Gabriel Rubio (97) goes to tackle Boston College running back Cam Barfield (21) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame linebacker Jordan Botelho (12) tackles Boston College running back Cam Barfield (21) during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Boston College running back Cam Barfield (21) tries to find a hole in the line during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame defensive lineman Tyson Ford (98) grabs Boston College running back Cam Barfield’s (21) facemask during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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The Leprechaun celebrates after making a snow angel after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne (10) points after singing the alma mater during the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame seniors tackle each other after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame offensive lineman Josh Lugg (75), quarterback Drew Pyne (10) and offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson (55) pose for a photo after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame running back Chase Ketterer (27) and Notre Dame wide receiver Griffin Eifert (28) walk off the field after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame lacrosse player Chris Conlin goes up against Notre Dame running back Skip Velotta (30) after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame offensive lineman Josh Lugg (75), offensive lineman Zeke Correll (52) and offensive lineman Ashton Craig (70) talk after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Notre Dame seniors pose for a photo after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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Johnny Carr and Nick Carter, both off-campus seniors, slide on the field after the game between Notre Dame and Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Max Petrosky/The Observer
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From the Archives: A history of the senior marshmallow toss

This past weekend, Notre Dame’s football game against Boston College featured an abundance of fluffy white objects flying through the air. A number of these objects were, of course, snowflakes; but following tradition, seniors also celebrated their final home football game by throwing marshmallows en masse.

This week, From the Archives looks at the history of the senior marshmallow toss. The origin of this tradition is, as evident in the heated debate on internet forums, still unclear. However, Observer reporting over the years captures the ubiquitous controversy surrounding the student deployment of projectiles — which, in the past, have included not just harmless marshmallows but treacherous toilet paper and harmful aquatic animals. Ultimately, the stories below reveal the extremes to which seniors will go to participate in the tossing of objects and commemorate (or perhaps lament) their final Notre Dame football game.

The obscure origins of the senior marshmallow tradition

Sept. 13, 1989 | Janice Archer | Nov. 16, 1989 | James Otteson | Nov. 19, 2007 | Joseph McMahon | ND Nation Discussion Board | Researched by Thomas Dobbs

This past weekend during the football contest between Notre Dame and Boston College, a careful spectator would have observed members of the senior class participating in a student tradition whose origins are wrapped in ambiguity: the senior marshmallow toss. 

Some claim the tradition began in the 1970s with students tossing rolls of toilet paper. Others point to its origin in the late 1980s when Notre Dame students threw marshmallows and oranges onto the field, in apparent anticipation of an expected Orange Bowl bid in 1989.

Mention of the “marshmallow wars,” however, first appeared in the Observer on Sept. 13, 1989. Referring to Notre Dame’s final home game of the 1988 season, Janice Archer wrote that at halftime “marshmallows flew in the rain as students hurled them at one another.”

According to Archer, the “sticky fun” of the marshmallow toss was coordinated by a newly-formed club named Irish Insanity. Erich Straub ‘90 founded the club in the prior year, citing his desire to create a “single pep club” that would match Notre Dame’s “unparalleled” student body.

Though the official origin of the marshmallow tradition is unclear, the earliest Observer reporting on the “marshmallow wars” came in 1989 in reference to the new Irish Insanity club (pictured above), which coordinated a halftime marshmallow toss at a 1988 football game against Penn State. Observer archives, Sept. 13, 1989.

Not all, however, shared an appreciation for the new marshmallow tradition. In a Letter to the Editor, James Otteson argued that students who were “fervently throwing marshmallows and cups at each other” demonstrated that “they were unable to act responsibly on their own.”

Otteson believed that the administration should have acted after Irish Insanity “coach[ed] the students before the game in preparation for the marshmallow wars.”

Despite some viewing the marshmallow toss as immature or wasteful, many seniors see the tradition as an innocent way to celebrate their last home football game as students. After a disappointing 2007 season where Notre Dame’s first and only home victory came on senior day, Nick Ransom ‘08 shared that he enjoyed the marshmallow tradition “even more so because nobody cared about the game that much.”

While current and future seniors certainly do not hope that the marshmallow wars will be the defining memory as a student cheering in Notre Dame Stadium, this year’s edition of the marshmallow tradition provided a sweet reward to a string of Notre Dame victories.

Not just marshmallows: A brief history of other objects thrown at Notre Dame football games

 Oct. 12, 1977 | Letter to Editor | Nov. 5, 1998 | Spencer Stefko | Nov. 2, 1998 | Michelle Krupa | May 14, 1999 | Tim Logan | Researched by Cade Czarnecki

While the current projectile of choice for Notre Dame seniors is the marshmallow, an assortment of other objects have historically been thrown around the student section.

As early as 1977, students were tossing toilet paper rolls as a means of entertainment and humor at Notre Dame football games and pep rallies. Students claimed they intended it in good fun, though some took offense when cheerleaders were hit at a pep rally.

In response to this violent act, the University made one of its first efforts to minimize the throwing of projectiles at football-related events by issuing a statement telling the students to stop.

To no one’s surprise, students did not always listen to administrative authority. One especially bold student, Robert Jacques, sarcastically wrote in a letter to the editor about the efficacy of University statements: “Of course, local retailers will be forbidden the right to sell papers to ND students.”

The toilet paper proved to be the least of the University’s concerns in the following decades, though. In 1998, sea life began to make its way into Notre Dame Stadium.

A student flaunts an octopus during a 1998 football game, indicating the extreme evolution of the senior marshmallow toss. Observer archives, Nov. 2, 1998.

Reports of squids, fish and frogs being thrown at football games became somewhat common in the late 1990s. Most agreed that the line had been crossed but perpetrators were hard to identify.

At the same time, ushers began cracking down on marshmallows being brought into games as students had begun stuffing the sugar blobs with coins and golf tees in order to add weight to their projectiles and achieve a further throw.

Marshmallow violators were often ejected, but the aquatic life hurlers were never identified. The debauchery reached its peak in 1998 when a frog hit a 10-year-old girl in the face and resulted in severe lacerations.

A student flings a frog during halftime of an October 1998 football game versus Baylor. The increased use of marine projectiles that season induced multiple injuries, with victims including a 10-year-old girl. Observer archives, April 14, 1999.

Chuck Hurley, assistant director of Notre Dame Security tried to put an end to such actions and simultaneously salvage the University’s reputation, saying, “This is really out of character for Notre Dame.”

Yet, Colleen Killina, a Saint Mary’s senior in 1998, put student attitudes about the projectile launching tradition best: “People are still going to do it no matter what [the punishment is].”

Killina’s prediction has proven quite astute in regard to the marshmallows, although it has been over two decades since marine life was thrown at a football game.

Marshmallows become cause for ejections 

Oct. 17, 2003 | Scott Brodfuehrer | Nov. 20, 2003  | Matthew Klobucher, Ryan Gagnet, Kevin Conley and John McCarthy | Nov. 21, 2005 | Maddie Hanna | Researched by Lilyann Gardner

The annual senior marshmallow toss has always been about fun and games for Notre Dame students, but stadium ushers and personnel have been tasked year after year with shutting down these antics. 

Ushers under the direction of Cappy Gagnon, coordinator of stadium personnel, ejected hundreds of students throughout the football seasons of the early 2000s as stadium personnel believed that students were stuffing the marshmallows with small items such as pennies and golf tees.

Notre Dame seniors throw marshmallows at the last football game of the 2005 season, a contest at which 43 students were ejected for participating in the traditional tossing. Observer archives, Nov. 21, 2005.

“Gagnon said that his ushers, in addition to Notre Dame Security/Police officers, would be looking for ‘ringleaders’ during half time — students who are throwing a large amount of marshmallows,” wrote Scott Brodfuehrer (‘04). “However, he would not rule out the possibility that a student who threw just one marshmallow could be ejected.” 

The University claimed that all of these ejections were a necessary measure to prevent potential injuries or damage to NBC’s camera equipment, but several students shared that it was ridiculous to have a handful of students take the fall for the many participants. 

“It is hard to imagine more harmless things to throw, and we find it hard to believe that many students have been harboring such injurious designs of their peers by hiding by concealing coins and rocks within,” wrote seniors Matthew Klobucher, Ryan Gagnet, Kevin Conley and John McCarthy.

The aforementioned students from Stanford and Keough Halls shared their frustration with Gagnon’s policies after two of their companions were kicked out the 2003 BYU game. The seniors stated that an usher had ensured that their friends would not be removed if they ceased throwing the marshmallows but that the same usher returned with his captain later and ejected them anyway. 

More marshmallow action from the 2005 Syracuse game. Observer archives, Nov. 21, 2005.

The two seniors, however, were not the only individuals betrayed by the ushers, as students have continued to be ejected over the years. The final game of the 2005 season against Syracuse resulted in 43 ejections due to marshmallow-related incidents according to an Observer report by Assistant News Editor Maddie Hanna (‘08).

The number of ejections has fluctuated over time, but it is apparent that these ejections, although bothersome, have done little to deter the marshmallow fight from occurring: marshmallows were once again tossed this past weekend during a snowy final game of the season.

Contact Spencer Kelly at skelly25@nd.edu.

Thomas Dobbs at tdobbs@nd.edu.

Cade Czarnecki at cczarne3@nd.edu.

Lilyann Gardner at lgardne2@nd.edu.

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From the Archives: The final years of the Notre Dame Fieldhouse

This week, the men’s and women’s basketball teams ramp up their seasons at the Joyce Center, their home since 1968. Before the current venue was built, however, Irish basketball played at the Notre Dame Fieldhouse, a structure formerly located next to LaFortune Student Center, and now home to the commemorative Fieldhouse Mall.

Once the Joyce Center (initially called the “Athletics and Convocation Center”) was completed in 1968, the University planned to demolish the then-vacant Fieldhouse. However, a passionate campaign led by an unlikely campus demographic emerged to save the structure. The final years of the Notre Dame Fieldhouse feature a fascinating transformation of the historic building, one last hurrah which added another rich chapter to the Notre Dame history books.

Fieldhouse saved by an unlikely ally

 Dec. 6, 1968 | William Luking | Oct. 17, 1969 | Gaetano DeSapio | Nov. 20, 1969 | Paul Gallagher | Nov. 24, 1969 | Paul Gallagher | Dec. 2, 1969 | Tim Treanor | Jan. 9, 1970 | Paul Gallagher | Researched by Avery Polking

Any Notre Dame student who approaches LaFortune Student Center from the northeast crosses a tree-encircled space now known as Fieldhouse Mall. Yet, contrary to its name, no fieldhouse is seen anywhere in the vicinity. Behind this university crossroads is a long and arduous history of the old Notre Dame Fieldhouse and debates over its demolition. 

The Notre Dame Fieldhouse was a multi-purpose arena which housed an array of sporting events in the first half of the 20th century. However, sentiments started to stir against its existence in 1969 when the University shared plans for the Fieldhouse’s demolition. Soon, though, a group of passionate art students and faculty as well as others who cherished the tradition of the Fieldhouse as a Notre Dame landmark expressed their objections.

The University Arts Council (UAC) advertises a rally to save the Notre Dame Fieldhouse for use as an arts center. Observer archives, Nov. 24, 1969.

The administration and the newly-formed University Arts Council (UAC) butted heads for three months at the end of 1969 over the question of demolition. Dr. James Fern, Art Department Chair, organized a rally to promote his proposed $1.3 million renovation plan for the Fieldhouse place with hopes of preserving it not as an athletic institution, but a center for the arts.

Those who opposed the Fieldhouse and advocated for its demolition did so for aesthetic reasons, some calling it obsolete, ugly and awkwardly situated. The administration, for one, sought to raze the Fieldhouse because it was an “eyesore and architecturally unsound.”

Students gather inside the Notre Dame Fieldhouse at a rally to oppose the demolition of the building. Observer archives, Dec. 2, 1969.

Notably, the 1969 rally featured an endorsement from Student Body President Phil McKenna as well as a pledge from Fr. Hesburgh himself to do “all he could” to delay the demolition. Hesburgh further announced his admiration for the UAC for their determination in defense of the Fieldhouse.

After three months of social action by the UAC, on January 8, 1970, they received a letter from Fr. Hesburgh declaring a six-month moratorium on the fieldhouse demolition. This constituted victory for the UAC, but Fern’s labor was not over yet. He now had six months to set plans for the new art institute and to raise the funds required. 

Twilight in the life of the Notre Dame Fieldhouse

Jan. 12, 1970 | Paul Gallagher | March 13, 1970 | Dan O’Donnel | April 20, 1972 | Observer Staff | July 10, 1975 | Andy Praschak | Nov. 13, 1975 | John Hannan |  Researched by Spencer Kelly

While the Notre Dame Fieldhouse is best remembered as a sports venue, the twilight of its life was spent in a reimagined role as a center for arts and culture.

Days after the University granted a six-month demolition moratorium for the Fieldhouse, The Observer reported that renovations would begin promptly; “tomorrow at 4:15,” to be precise.

University Arts Council Chairman Tom Kronk promised that the new Fieldhouse would spark a “cultural renaissance on the Notre Dame campus.”

However, renovations were now estimated at $1.8 million — over $14 million today. Kronk believed funds could be raised, but by March, the Arts Finance Committee reported that “no major contributions” had been received.

At the end of the demolition moratorium, the University extended it indefinitely, keeping the Fieldhouse alive but in a precarious position.

The Notre Dame Fieldhouse was transformed into an arts center by 1971. Observer archives, Oct, 17, 1973.

By 1971, the Art Department had settled into the Fieldhouse. Department Chairman Thomas Fern said the building housed classrooms, studios and an art gallery, serving 800 students in total.

However, the Fieldhouse remained unrenovated, and money was still lacking. Fern reported “rather piddling” donations totaling $3,500, nowhere near the millions needed. Still, Fern maintained that the Fieldhouse should stand, saying “[it’s an] educationally valuable space and a viable space.”

The University remained noncommittal on the Fieldhouse’s future.

“You just kind of handle it on a year to year basis,” Fr. Blantz of the Office of Student Affairs said. “As you can see parts of the building are not in good repair. You don’t want to make any long term commitments with a building like that.”

The mid-1970s saw flickers — literal and figurative — of the “cultural renaissance” that Kronk had promised. In 1972, the Fieldhouse hosted a light sculpture exhibit. In strikingly poetic terms, The Observer described how “on the darkness shrouded main floor of the Fieldhouse, [the sculptures] stand out as highlights of brilliant colour [sic] and muted, coloured shadows.”

A faded half court logo is still visible during a 1975 ceramics workshop held on the floor of the Notre Dame Fieldhouse. Observer archives, July 10, 1975.

In 1975, the Fieldhouse held a ceramics workshop, hosting students, teachers and professional potters from around the country.

“This is the first time a workshop of this type has ever been offered in ceramics,” art professor Bill Kremer said.

“I can’t stress enough the convenience of the Fieldhouse for purposes such as this,” Kremer added. “I really hope the University doesn’t continue the discussion of tearing it down.”

Kremer admitted that the Fieldhouse was in decaying condition, noting that “students had to patch the roof.” Kremer was a staunch Fieldhouse supporter, though, citing its abundant space for creativity.

“We give everyone studio space, so they can develop their personality and not have their work thrown in with a mass of others,” Kremer said. “It helps them establish identity.”

Indeed, it seemed that the Fieldhouse itself was a key part of Notre Dame’s identity overall. Whether it was facilitating athletic or artistic endeavors, the Fieldhouse was always a space where the Notre Dame community could come together.

The fall of the Notre Dame Fieldhouse

Oct. 11, 1980 | John McGrath | Feb. 2, 1983 | Margaret Fosmoe | March 1, 1983 | Robert Walsh and Thomas Piernek | Researched by Thomas Dobbs

With the Fieldhouse showing its age by the early 1980s, students shared diverging opinions on its future.

Observer Production Manager John McGrath proposed that the Fieldhouse be converted into a “first-class student center.” McGrath advocated for the conversion of the Fieldhouse due to its “enormous size, its central location on campus and its rich tradition.”

Deirdre Murphy, an architecture student, helped McGrath outline a tentative floor plan. The plan included spaces such as a bowling alley, a 350-500 seat movie theater, a full-size nightclub and coffeehouse, and a multipurpose area for basketball, volleyball, or tennis courts.

McGrath estimated the Fieldhouse renovations at $2.5 million. Repurposing an existing structure, McGrath argued, would be less expensive given the cost of new student dormitories under construction, which he claimed “will cost the university over $3 million” each.

Not all students shared McGrath’s enthusiasm for the potential of the Fieldhouse. Saint Mary’s Executive Editor Margaret Fosmoe wrote that “the days of the Fieldhouse are gone.” After planned renovations of the structure fell through in the 1970s, Fosmoe pointed out that the art department occupied the space even as it “continued to decay around them.”

A photo taken weeks before its demolition shows the decaying state of the Notre Dame Fieldhouse. Observer archives, March 11, 1983.

It appears that the University recognized this decay and scheduled the Fieldhouse demolition for the week of spring break of 1983.

Robert Walsh (‘86) and Thomas Piernek outlined the storied history of the Fieldhouse in an ode to the structure in its final week before demolition.

The building functioned as the football locker room for Irish legends George Gipp, Jesse Harper and Knute Rockne. The Fieldhouse also had a rich political history, serving as the venue for a 1935 convocation featuring President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a site for a 1937 “nationwide tour against communism” featuring then-Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover.

Walsh and Piernek concluded that the demolition of the Fieldhouse showed that “Notre Dame has more important priorities” than preserving its history. While they predicted that future students would appreciate the fiscal conservatism the University showed in electing against renovating the Fieldhouse, the current students “can find consolation only in the often heard phrase, ‘Notre Dame … not quite the great University it intends to be.’”

The Notre Dame Fieldhouse was demolished during spring break of 1983. Observer archives, March 23, 1983.

Today’s student body would surely reject the assertion that Notre Dame is no longer a “great university.” Still, when Notre Dame demolished the Fieldhouse, this campus lost not just a sporting arena or an art space or a political venue but a piece of its history, now remembered only by a small pillar and a plaque at Fieldhouse Mall.

Contact Spencer Kelly at skelly25@nd.edu

Avery Polking at apolking@nd.edu

Thomas Dobbs at tdobbs@nd.edu

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From the Archives: Badin, Walsh and the first female dorms at Notre Dame

In our edition celebrating 50 years of women at Notre Dame, we highlighted the often contentious nature of the coeducation process in the early 1970s. One aspect we couldn’t cover in detail was the decision over which of the men’s dorms would be converted to accommodate the new female students — a ruling arguably more controversial than the decision to go coed itself.

This week, From the Archives details the spirited saga that commenced when Badin and Walsh were selected as the first female dorms at Notre Dame. Residents of these halls were naturally displeased with the decision, conjuring up creative and even self deprecatory arguments for why the administration should reconsider. But eventually, the inevitable changes brought by co-education arrived at a reckoning, presenting enduring lessons for how to deal with change at a university steeped in history and tradition.

Badin and Walsh revealed as the first female dorms

Feb. 9 1972 | Maria Gallagher | Feb. 11 1972 | Ann McCarry | Researched by Thomas Dobbs

On Feb. 8, 1972, vice president of student affairs Rev. Thomas Blantz designated Badin and Walsh as the first residences for female undergraduates at Notre Dame for the 1972-1973 academic year.

According to Rev. Blantz, Badin and Walsh were selected as they offered “appropriate security for young women … adequate physical facilities … and room available for social and recreational activities.” 

This explanation did not suffice for many displaced Badin and Walsh residents who expressed “confusion” and “disappointment” with the decision. Badin Hall President Buz Imhoff ‘72 called the decision a “most illogical choice.” 

An Observer headline announces Badin and Walsh as the first female dorms at Notre Dame. Observer archives, Feb. 9, 1972.

In an attempt to persuade university leaders to reconsider their decision, Badin residents presented a two-sided defense of their hall. On one hand, Badin resident and Hall Life Commissioner Bob Higgins (‘73) argued that Badin’s spirit was “excellent” and was “the only thing that keeps guys wanting to live there.” 

Imhoff contributed some decidedly self-deprecatory arguments, claiming that Badin offered inadequate “lounge space” and overall “dismal” conditions that would forbid female inhabitance. The focus on Badin’s spacial shortcomings led to the crux of Higgins’s proposal: “Girls should be offered at least livable conditions” and that current Badin Hall residents could sacrifice by remaining in apparent “unlivable” conditions.

In a Feb. 10 address in the Howard Hall chapel to approximately 100 Walsh and Badin residents, University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh urged students that “if you want the value of girls on campus, you have to have static … no matter what halls you choose.”

Residents of Badin and Walsh Halls appear unhappy at a meeting with then University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh discussing the decision to convert their dorms into female residences. Observer archives, Feb. 11, 1972.

Although displacement was not a welcome move for Badin residents, Badin Hall Council appeared satisfied with Fr. Hesburgh’s argument, announcing that they “realize that some hall must be chosen for the purpose of female housing.”

Badin Hall Council, however, did offer some suggestions for the University, requesting that they be allowed to preserve their sections in moves to other halls and that they not be displaced again “in the spirit of fairness.” In his original announcement, Fr. Blantz had outlined the displacement procedure, in which approximately 330 students Badin and Walsh Student were to be distributed among the other 18 residence halls based on “its ability to absorb upperclass transfers.”

In apparent recognition of the concerns of Badin Hall about further displacement, Fr. Hesburgh reminded students that he expected to follow the same procedure in the coming years as female enrollment expanded and other dorms were converted for female use.

Thoughts on the Badin and Walsh transition

Feb. 14, 1972 | Marlene Zloza | Feb. 16, 1972 | Jerry Lutkus | Feb. 17, 1972 | Letter to Editor | May 4, 1972 | Observer Staff | Researched by Cade Czarnecki

While the Badin Hall Council accepted the University’s decision to turn their dorm into a female residence, the early months of 1972 saw significant pushback from many residents of Badin and Walsh and from other members of the tri-campus community.

The men that were being forced out of Badin and Walsh were told by the University and housing committee that, “since we wanted the women, we should be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to house them on campus.”

Badin and Walsh residents countered with the rationale that the burden should be shared across all dorms on campus, pointing out the fact that it was not exclusively Badin and Walsh men that wanted women at Notre Dame.

“A girl’s room next year?” asked a caption below a picture of an unspecified resident of Badin or Walsh Hall. Observer archives, Feb. 14, 1972.

Counter proposals were offered to the “ad hoc housing committee” that was formed to sort out the relocation of Badin and Walsh men. One proposal to the committee was to have each hall on campus allocate 10 to 15 beds in a section together for “blocks” of exiled Badin and Walsh residents to move to.

Pushback to the removal of men and implementation of women in Badin and Walsh did not exclusively come from males, though. Marlene Zloza, a Saint Mary’s freshman, toured both Badin and Walsh, and her report on the state of the dorms was mixed.

Zloza highlighted the amenities in Walsh and, in doing so, pointed out the various flaws in Badin. Complaints included minimal lounge space and the presence of metal closets in the hallways. She continued to say that there was no real space for a kitchen or laundry room in Badin either.

After highlighting the bats that called Walsh home and the friendly neighborhood mice in Badin, Zloza concluded that women would not want to live in Badin and would be better housed in Walsh.

Residents of Badin Hall hang a wreath outside their dorm, mourning the decision to turn their dorm into a women’s residence. Observer archives, Feb. 14, 1972.

Yet, these opinions had little sway over the whole situation. Men were to be forced out and women were to be forced in.

In a solemn display in their final days in the building they had called home, Badin men hung a black wreath outside their dorm, signifying the death of their beloved residence hall.

The ghosts of coed integration at Notre Dame

​​Sept. 2, 1972 | Jerry Lutkus | Sept. 8, 1972 | Jerry Lutkus | Researched by Avery Polking

When women were first admitted to Notre Dame in 1972, they were welcomed by most of the campus community. But some male students lamented the profound changes that coeducation entailed, changes perhaps embodied best in the conversion of Badin and Walsh to female dorms.

One of Notre Dame’s first female undergraduates moves into her new dorm room in the fall of 1972. Observer archives, Sept. 8, 1972.

A common refrain among Notre Dame men was feeling a loss of tradition over the introduction of women. Many felt like coeducation subverted an integral part of Notre Dame’s identity. But the author of “The Ghost of Badin” argued for a more progressive view of this monumental announcement.

Jerry Lutkus wrote that the nature of the real world must take precedent over tradition. Even though tradition is a “quantity around which legends are based,” tradition is notoriously bad at locating points of issue it creates because of its longevity and form. Neglecting to educate women, Lutkus wrote, is one of these points of issue.

Therefore, integrating women into Notre Dame, according to its proponents, was an act that brought Notre Dame into the real world. After all, “women and men are equals in society, why should they not be equal in education? At Notre Dame?”

A cartoon satirizes a former Walsh resident coming around to the idea of coeducation and its associated changes. Observer archives, Sept. 8, 1972.

Lutkus concluded by admitting that the “ghosts of tradition” left by men of Badin Hall no longer resided within its walls. This, however, was not a bad thing. The departure of old ghosts made way for new traditions created by the new female undergraduates who would call Badin home.

“So, that tradition that you think is destroyed at Notre Dame is actually not destroyed,” Lutkus wrote. “It is simply enhanced, expanded. It is added to and given a dimension it’s never seen before.”

Still seeping in tradition, Lutkus’ message to Notre Dame remains as salient as ever. While we can and should continue to honor the legacy of this historic University, many students and administrators today believe tradition should never preclude Notre Dame from evolving and improving to create a more inclusive campus environment.

As Lutkus put it fifty years ago, when we update our traditions, practices, and policies, “Notre Dame hasn’t become just any other college because it is still Notre Dame. But it is a new Notre Dame. A new Notre Dame with some new tradition added to the old and some openings for compatriots to keep company with the ghosts of ages past.”

Contact Spencer Kelly at skelly25@nd.edu

Thomas Dobbs at tdobbs@nd.edu

Cade Czarnecki at cczarne3@nd.edu

Avery Polking at apolking@nd.edu

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Gameday Gallery: Notre Dame vs Clemson

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From the Archives: Creepy tales and cultural traditions

With this week’s edition falling on October 31, we felt obligated to write about Halloween. For those currently imbued with the holiday spirit, the following stories about campus ghosts, ouija sessions and seances will not disappoint.

But we also wanted to look beyond “spooky season” stereotypes. The blurbs below consider the transformation of Halloween from its pagan origins, pondering the lost significance of the original “All Hallows Eve.” We also feature some other holidays occurring in late October. Diwali and Dia de los Muertos represent important ethnic traditions whose cultural depth contrasts with the seemingly-frivolous nature of modern Halloween. While costume parties and ghost stories are always entertaining, it is important to consider the deeper meaning of this season for certain people in the tri-campus community and around the world.

Campus lore and the ghost of Washington Hall

Oct. 31, 1988 | Julie Ryan | Oct. 31, 2006 | Joe Piarulli | Researched by Cade Czarnecki

Over time, there have been many eerie reports of paranormal activity at the building situated between the Dome and LaFortune Student Center. Doors slamming, lights turning off and transparent silhouettes entering the building comprise only a few of the spooky tales about Washington Hall’s ghost.

Campus lore contains numerous possible identities for the supernatural being that haunts Washington Hall. One tale tells of a steeplejack who fell to his death from the roof while helping to construct the hall. Another tells of a cavalry soldier that was killed by Native Americans and buried on the sacred native land that the Notre Dame campus now stands upon.

The most prominent and widely accepted attribution of the haunting of Washington Hall, though, is to the ghost of George Gipp, a football player in the early 1900s under then-head coach Knute Rockne.

The origin of Ghost of the Gipper stems from a commonly echoed story that Gipp would often sneak into Washington Hall when he had missed curfew and could not return to his residence.

On one such night, Gipp could not get inside Washington Hall and resorted to sleeping on its steps. He contracted pneumonia as a result of the harsh conditions of South Bend, Indiana and later succumbed to the disease.

The first reported sighting of the Ghost of the Gipper was in 1925, five years after Gipp’s death. Many more stories followed in subsequent years.

Tom Barkes, Washington Hall’s manager in 1988, saw the stories as both fun and natural to the hall’s lifespan: “No self-respecting 107 year old theater should be without its ghost stories. Theater is magic to begin with, so it is a natural place for stories.”

An illustration depicts students interacting with a ouija board inside Washington Hall, hoping to contact the legendary Ghost of the Gipper. Observer archives, Oct. 31, 1988.

Others take them far more seriously, such as the group of four students who snuck into Washington Hall with an ouija board in 1985. They attempted to contact the Ghost of the Gipper only to have the board spell out “S…G” and then slide the planchette to “Goodbye.” After a second attempt that garnered the same result, the students hurried out of the hall. A security guard (SG) was seen making his rounds as they snuck out.

Such Notre Dame lore has persisted for hundreds of years and is sure to continue into the future. The question now is simply when, not if, the ghost of George “The Gipper” Gipp will next be seen in his old sanctuary, Washington Hall.

Halloween: horrifying or hilarious?

Oct. 31, 1988 | Mark Ridgeway | Oct. 31, 1991 | Paige SmoronOct. 30, 1996 | Dan Cichalski | Researched by Lilyann Gardner

Even as the Ghost of the Gipper captured the imaginations of some students, the spirit of Halloween and its holiday traditions were a topic of debate at Notre Dame throughout the late 1980s and well into the 90s. 

Dan Cichalski (‘98), Assistant Accent Editor, took a strong stance in favor of making Halloween an official national holiday, arguing that it would establish a day in which everyone would be able to celebrate those who have passed away while also allowing themselves to be someone or something else for a short while.  

“With Halloween officially recognized by the government though, people in such positions would be able to let their fun side go wild,” wrote Cichalski. 

Conversely, Mark Ridgeway (‘89), Systems Manager, argued that the meaning of Halloween had been lost. Ridgeway claimed that the celebration of the deceased surrounding All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints Day had been overrun by a dark side of violence, gore and evil. 

Morbid curiosity and the thrill of adrenaline that stemmed from watching horror films and attempting to commune with ghosts have cast the origins of Halloween into the shadows, according to Ridgeway. 

“As an adult, looking at the way Halloween is today, I feel the true meaning of the night has been lost, but that the fun of the celebration has not been lost,” Ridgeway wrote.

Mark Ridgeway’s column criticized the evolution of Halloween from its roots as “All Hallows Eve,” a pagan celebration of the deceased. Observer archives, Oct. 31, 1988.

The Observer and the University of Notre Dame were sure to maintain the playful nature of Halloween with dorm decorations, pumpkin carving competitions and hypothetical seances. 

Paige Smoron (‘92), Assistant Accent Writer, interviewed students and faculty in 1991 to see which famous spirits should be conjured up at a Halloween seance.

Elvis was at the top of the list, and other notable figures included Marilyn Monroe, Knute Rockne, Nikola Tesla, Caspar the friendly ghost and Jesus Christ. However, some students refused to entertain the notion of a seance at all due to its pagan origins. 

The moral meaning behind these Halloween traditions at Notre Dame may still be up in the air, but there is no denying that remembering the dead plays a role in more ways than one. 

 Beyond Halloween: Diwali and Dia De Los Muertos at Notre Dame

 Oct. 30, 1997 | Bernadette Pampuch | Nov. 10, 2014 | Paul Stevenson | Researched by Thomas Dobbs

Halloween may garner the most on-campus attention this season, but autumn also marks a time to consider celebrations that hold deeper spiritual and religious significance.

In order to emphasize global religious events on campus, in 2004 Campus Ministry began the Prayer from Around the World series to offer “the opportunity for various faith traditions to share their forms of praying with the campus communities.”

One such holiday, Diwali, is a major five-day Hindu festival occurring in October or November that celebrates the “triumph of good over evil, light over dark and knowledge over darkness.”

Nishant Singh (‘17) recalled eating candies and sweets during the Diwali festival as a child but emphasized that “Diwali is much bigger than Halloween. It is like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years combined into one.”

As evidence of Diwali’s broad significance, Priscilla Wong, senior advisor at the graduate and multicultural student ministry, shared that she felt connected to Diwali despite not practicing Hinduism. Wong described celebrations of Diwali at friends’ houses and with her daughter’s Hindu spouse.

A member of the Indian Association of Notre Dame celebrates Diwali, an ancient Hindu festival “like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years combined into one.” Observer archives, Nov. 10, 2014.

While the sense of community is clear in Diwali celebrations, familial connections form the foundation of another autumnal holiday: Dia de los Muertos. Celebrated on the first and second of November, Dia de los Muertos may at first resemble Halloween with its elaborate displays of skulls or candy offerings.

But unlike Halloween, Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday centered on reflection and the remembrance of “departed ancestors whose spirits visit the earth once each year.” Some celebrate by setting up altars in their homes to welcome their ancestors, while entire families can “spend the day cleaning and repainting graves, decorating tombstones with flowers.”

Although fire precautions, untrustworthy roommates or engineering shortcomings may limit the construction of an altar here on campus, one can celebrate Dia de los Muertos with a simple “prayer [or moment of remembrance] for a deceased family member.”

While Halloween parties and costume contests provide for an uncomplicated and amusing holiday, the concurrent celebrations of Diwali and Dia de los Muertos elicit meaningful celebrations of family and renewal that are closely connected to the rituals themselves.

Contact Spencer Kelly at skelly25@nd.edu

Cade Czarnecki at cczarne3@nd.edu

Lilyann Gardner at lgardne2@nd.edu

Thomas Dobbs at tdobbs@nd.edu

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